Nonverbal signs

Your body language says a lot about you

The phrase “actions speak louder than words” rings true when it comes to nonverbal body language, especially in a classroom setting.

First impressions on the first day of classes are formed through both verbal and nonverbal signs from professors and students. It is important to be conscious of not only what your words are saying, but also your body language.

According to, research shows that nonverbal forms of communication make up the majority of our communication. Facial expressions, gestures, eye contact, posture, and the tone of your voice fall under the category of nonverbal communication.

Dr. Carole McKenna, sociology instructor at Ferris, said she has noticed numerous body language signs that seem universal throughout the student body.

“I see eye-rolling [from students]; that usually means they don’t want to hear the information or they don’t like the information,” said McKenna.

Eye-rolling, arm-crossing, and students putting their heads down on their desks are strong indicators of boredom or indifference in the classroom.

“I had one student start snoring while he was sitting straight up and several students put their head down on their desks,” said McKenna. “My lectures often involve controversial topics in sociology so I believe they [students] are very tired rather than bored.  Don’t we all like to think that?”

The current generation of students has a high reliance on technology which greatly affects communication. Communicating via Facebook or texts eliminates the need for physical communication. The receiver cannot hear the tone or see the facial expressions of the sender. However, the use of technology inside the classroom can cause friction between professors and students.

“One of my favorites is when students stare down into their lap like I won’t notice they are texting,” said McKenna. “I often see students smiling at their computer when they are supposed to be taking notes. Usually, I’m not lecturing about funny things. This generation has technology that previous generations have never had and so the body language seems to reflect some of that.”

There are easy steps to take to improve your body language.

“Videota pe a conversation between you and a partner,” advises “Set the camera to record both of you at the same time, so you can observe the nonverbal back-and-forth. When you watch the recording, focus on any discrepancies between your verbal and nonverbal communication.”

By improving your nonverbal communication skills, you can become more approachable and give off a better first impression. n